President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are to meet in person by May, South Korean officials confirmed after talks with the president at the White House.
The South Koreans passed a verbal message from Kim Jong-un, saying the North Korean leader was “committed to denuclearization”.
President Trump hailed “great progress” but said sanctions would remain in place.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said the news “came like a miracle”.
He said: “If President Trump and Chairman Kim meet following an inter-Korean summit, complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula will be put on the right track in earnest.”
China has welcomed the development, saying the Korean peninsula issue was “heading in the right direction” and calling for “political courage”.
However, North Korea has halted missile and nuclear tests during previous talks, only to resume them when it lost patience or felt it was not getting what it demanded.
The latest announcement came days after the South Korean delegation met Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang.
Speaking outside the White House after briefing President Trump, South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong said he had passed on a message that Kim Jong-un was “committed to denuclearization” and had “pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests”.
According to a statement sent to the Washington Post, North Korea’s UN ambassador said the “courageous decision” of Kim Jong-un would help secure “peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the East Asia region”.
There is no indication yet of where the Trump-Kim talks might take place, but the Korean border’s demilitarized zone (DMZ) and Beijing are seen as likely options.